News, Culture & Society

The Daily Mail’s annual wine awards! The top tipples on our supermarket shelves

The Daily Mail Wine Awards is my favourite day of the year. In 2020 we were forced to conduct this logistically challenging event remotely, which was rather interesting to say the least, but this year we were thankfully all back together at Daily Mail HQ.

This ultimate ‘blind tasting’ challenge is the culmination of months of me tasting my way through thousands of wines from the UK’s High Street retailers. I whittle down a long list of bottles to the very best, and then further divide them into categories covering every flavour and style imaginable.

I then ring up my most talented wine expert friends to assemble the ultimate judging team in order to taste, vote for and comment on these wines. As self-appointed chairman of this merry band of talented palates, it is a highly enjoyable day and the results that this team have come up with this year are nothing short of incredible. 

I cannot thank them enough for their time – and their great taste. Aside from being packed with superbly accurate flavours, every single winner and runner-up in each class shows extraordinary value for money. 

This is what we need when we want to reward our senses while keeping our standards sky-high. So read on for the finest 40 wines on the High Street, and remember to act fast because many of these bottles are subject to seasonal discounts and some of these deals are time sensitive. Best of luck… and cheers!

Matthew Jukes, Weekend wine expert

BRITAIN’S 40 BEST VALUE WINES 

Gary Barlow, 50, who lives in the Cotswolds, has joined the panel of judges after debuting his own first wine range. Pictured left to right: Emma Rice, Matthew Jukes, Gary Barlow, Jodie Kidd and Alex Hollywood 

By Lisa Sewards 

Spain is a land of firsts for Gary Barlow. Not only was it where he went on his first foreign holiday and the first place Take That performed outside the UK, but it is now also the country of origin for his first wine range.

During the pandemic, with pubs and bars closed for months on end, lockdowns served to bring out our inner explorers, and Gary has now started his own wine label. He’s also one of the judges in the fourth annual Daily Mail Wine Awards, tasting and choosing the 40 best-value bottles in Britain from a specially selected group of supermarket tipples – from reds and rosés to whites, fizzies and Ports.

Our Wine Awards have taken on a particular importance over the past couple of years during Covid as Brits treated themselves to alcoholic indulgences to cheer themselves up. A recent Waitrose report revealed that one in ten consumers had installed an outdoor bar, while wine retailer Majestic reported a 300 per cent online sales increase during the first lockdown.

Gary didn’t install a bar but he did research and taste hundreds of wines to develop his own range, Gary Barlow Organic. And the blind tastings proved surprising. 

‘For years, I’ve wanted to get into wine yet never felt I knew enough about it to do it. But going into lockdown I thought, “Right, I’m going to learn about this,”’ says Gary, 50, who lives in the Cotswolds. 

‘I made sure I had great people around me even though we were all on Zoom and locked away. So they’d send the wine to me and I’d taste ten and choose a favourite, then another favourite from the next ten, and slowly they were narrowing down what my taste was.

A trick to savour the flavour 

I’m not a fan of expensive wine preservation gimmicks, preferring a very simple and incredibly cheap way of keeping wine in good condition once opened. Grab a small, empty, screw-capped, glass mineral water bottle and keep it handy in your kitchen. 

If you only want to drink a couple of glasses of a bottle of wine, fill the mineral water bottle right to the brim with the rest and screw on the cap. This will prevent oxidation (which spoils a wine), therefore maintaining its integrity for a good few days. 

This method can be used with any style of wine apart from sparkling, and it means you’re not over-imbibing, while ensuring you have the treat of the rest of the wine to come when you’re ready!

Matthew Jukes

‘I never knew where the wine was from or what the grapes were. So I wished we’d filmed the reveal because when they took off the covers it was Spanish wine for both red and white.

‘It was amazing as Spain is a special place for me: the first place I’d had a foreign holiday, that Take That had played outside the UK, and now my first wine. So, when I found my taste buds drawn to Spanish wines it felt like the perfect fit.’

Gary confesses he was a late starter when it came to appreciating good wine, always sticking to the ones he knew. But his palate was ignited when a friend introduced him to the joys of a full-bodied Bordeaux. 

To decant, or not to decant? 

A question that kept popping up among the judges during our deliberations was, ‘When is best to decant a red wine or a Port?’ Well, decanting is needed for two very different purposes.

Firstly, if a wine has naturally occurring sediment, you need to slowly pour the wine out of its original bottle, stopping before the sediment reaches the neck. This leaves the wine clean and ensures no gritty sediment will be in anyone’s glass. Once you’ve done this, rinse out the original bottle and, if you wish, pour the wine carefully back into its original bottle (this is called double-decanting). 

The second reason to decant a wine is to give it some air – sometimes bigger reds need more time to relax and open up. If a red is a bit unyielding when you first taste it, decanting it and swirling it around a few times will give it a chance to mellow and improve its aroma or taste 

‘I was about 28 when I started to appreciate good wine with a friend of mine. We used to make records together and we started travelling. But I found my experience of travelling as a record producer completely different to travelling as an artist in a band. We actually had time, so rather than having room service in a van on the way to a gig, we had dinner and life slowed down a bit,’ recalls Gary, whose new album, The Dream Of Christmas, is released this Friday.

‘My friend was a real expert on red wine so was teaching me the difference between California and France, and I learnt a lot. I’d just thought red wine was red wine. Then I started to taste the difference, and when you’re exposed to good wines you get to know what you like and don’t.

‘I’m one of those people who stick with what I like. But I loved the first Spanish wine I tasted, and now they’re among my favourites. That’s a lovely journey because we always used to think wine was for a certain type of person, but it’s for everyone.

When you see what we’re doing today, tasting wine for the Daily Mail Wine Awards, it’s a hobby anyone can have and it’s gorgeous.

‘My best evenings are spent with good friends and family. They’re full of laughter – and great wine. I also love a glass of deep, complex red wine at the end of a long day when I’ve been with the band or sat at the computer, and you go, “Ahh,” and your shoulders drop.’

Gary has joined our panel of judges, which includes ex-supermodel, racing driver and publican Jodie Kidd, leading winemaker Emma Rice and food writer and cook Alex Hollywood. They were all blown away by the winner in the Aromatic White class – the £10 Marks & Spencer 2020 Classics No.9 Gewurztraminer, Alsace, France.

‘When it came to the aromatic wines I was like, “Wow!” They all smelt gorgeous,’ says Gary. ‘My friend and I used to choose our wines with the nose as it doesn’t tend to let you down.’

But it was a different story for Gary when it came to the Chardonnays. ‘Chardonnay is not really my taste so I went for the lightest flavour in that category,’ he explains. 

By contrast, Jodie is the queen of Chardonnay and she fell for the 2019 Robert Oatley, Signature Series, Margaret River Chardonnay, Western Australia (£11.50, Co-op).

‘Not all Chardonnays are oaky in taste,’ she says. ‘I’ve really expanded my tastebuds from ordering the safe wines like a Petit Chablis and have become a huge fan of global chardonnay after tasting Aldi’s Australian 2018 Caves Road Chardonnay, Margaret River for last year’s awards.’

Her passion for and knowledge of wine began, and has expanded, through co-owning acclaimed gastropub The Half Moon in Kirdford, West Sussex. ‘I used to be a vodka and Red Bull girl. But I got into the joys of wine through the pub. 

‘Where we live, our demographic is wealthy and older so they know what they’re talking about when it comes to wine. The winning rosé in these awards, the Co-op’s 2020 Château Barthès, Bandol Rosé, Provence, France [£13], was exactly what we need for a foodie’s type of winter rosé. 

‘We still sell rosé during winter and it no longer has that short shelf life due to the high quality of the grapes now.’

In the pub, Jodie, her team and chef take great care to pair good wine with food. 

‘When we have a new dish, we think of how a new wine might make a lovely pairing. The locals like it as it enables them to taste different wines, which is important as it can be overwhelming because there are so many wines out there. 

‘That’s why the Daily Mail Wine Awards are so good for sorting the best of supermarket wines, with cheap prices for top quality bottles.’

Alex, whose books include Cooking Tonight, is also keen on pairing wine with food. ‘I was brought up with a passion for food and wine because all our family holidays were based around where we were going to eat,’ she says. 

‘My godmother was French, and I have French and Scandinavian family heritage so these influence the way I cook and eat. 

‘Also as we travelled to our house in Spain for family holidays, we’d often stop at Les Routiers-recommended places along the way. We’d eat the most delicious food and pair the wines with them. Even though I was little, I had the wines watered down to appreciate them.’

Alex, whose ex-husband is Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood, really appreciates the joy of a medium-weight white wine and loved Marks & Spencer’s 2020 Viré-Clessé, Vieilles Vignes, Florent Rouve, Burgundy, France (£14). ‘This is delicious as I like a gentler wine. But it’s also very autumnal and wonderful for pairing with pot-roast pheasant in white wine.’

As for Champagne and sparkling wine, Emma Rice, head winemaker at Hattingley Valley Wines in Hampshire, knows the importance of letting a good fizz speak for itself. ‘The smaller the bubbles, the longer the length of flavour on the palate and the classier the wine,’ she says. 

‘I like a rich style of Champagne like Bollinger or Krug. That said, you can’t beat an English sparkling wine. The winner of this category, Aldi’s NV Bowler & Brolly English Sparkling Classic Cuvée Brut [£19.99], was impressive and a good price.

‘The reason English sparkling is pricier than Cava and Prosecco is because a lot of work goes into making it. It’s like making Champagne and it’s aged for five or six years or more – but well worth the wait.’

Gary agrees, although he admits, ‘I like a sweeter Champagne but I could drink any of the choices in the bubbles categories. I do drink fizz, especially if we are celebrating in the office if we’ve won an award.’

Which, for Gary – who has sold more than 50 million records, written 14 UK No 1 hits and won six Ivor Novello awards – must be a regular occurrence. 

A feast of fizz! Brilliant bubbles from around the globe 

WORLD SPARKLING WINES 

ITALY, SPAIN & SOUTH AFRICA 

WINNING WINE: NV Loved & Found Sparkling Pecorino 

Abruzzo, Italy (£8.99, Waitrose) 

I have never tasted a sparkling Pecorino before, and bubbles really do suit this quirky Italian white grape – so much so that it pole-vaulted into this line-up of great wines and our judges loved it so much that it won our Miscellaneous Sparkling Wines class. Bright, floral, zesty and energetically fizzy, this is a tremendous wine that Waitrose found, and we all loved.

Food pairing Best with party nibbles

2018 No.1 Cava Castillo Perelada 

Penedès, Spain (£10.79, reduced to £7.99 from 1 December until 2 January, Waitrose)

It is extraordinary to think that this traditional method wine, made in the same way as the Champagnes and English sparklers in this list, is less than half their price. Super-high quality, wonderfully complete and ever so refined, this is the sparkler for you to consider not just on high days and holidays but whenever it takes your fancy given its thrilling discounted price. It is no surprise that this was a runner-up in the Cava and Prosecco class.

WINNING WINE: 2020 La Gioiosa et Amorosa, Prosecco Rosé Millesimato

Veneto, Italy (£10, Tesco) 

This is the only rosé fizz to triumph at this year’s Awards, and it romped home to win the Cava and Prosecco class. Everything about this wine is fantastic, from the beautiful packaging, including the elegant leaf detail on the neckband, down to the ravishing, pale pink colour and the delicacy and charm of the raspberry and red cherry fruit. Unlike many Proseccos on the shelves today, it finishes dry, clean and bright as a button, too.

NV Graham Beck, Vintner’s Selection Brut, Cap Classique 

South Africa (£13, Tesco) 

Made from 51% Chardonnay and 49% Pinot Noir, this is South Africa’s only wine in the Top 40 this year because the other contenders narrowly missed out on inclusion. Perhaps it is no surprise that a wine made by the most famous fizz protagonist in the Cape, Pieter Ferreira, made the grade because it is effortlessly elegant. 

It is also a worthy rival to the English and French sparklers which include these two grapes in their recipes. Once again, though, value for money makes Vintner’s Selection an unmissable wine.

ENGLISH SPARKLING WINES  

NV Bowler & Brolly English Sparkling Classic Cuvée Brut Hampshire, England (£19.99, Aldi)

NV Ridgeview, Bloomsbury Sussex, England (£28.99, reduced to £21.69 from 1 December until 2 January, Waitrose)

The best English sparkling wines, pictured left to right: NV Bowler & Brolly English Sparkling Classic Cuvée Brut and NV Ridgeview, Bloomsbury

WINNING WINE: NV Bowler & Brolly English Sparkling Classic Cuvée Brut

Hampshire, England (£19.99, Aldi) 

Aldi’s wine selection is always interesting, not least because of its desire to track down bargain-priced wines that can compete with more premium bottles found in other supermarkets. 

Of course, English sparkling wine is an expensive category, and yet Aldi has managed to do the impossible and find a wine that is both exceptional in quality terms and also manages to dip under the magical 20 quid barrier. 

Hats off, bowler hats if you wish, to this impeccable, winning creation. It is pin-sharp, effortlessly refreshing and every inch an English classic.

NV Ridgeview, Bloomsbury

Sussex, England (£28.99, reduced to £21.69 from 1 December until 2 January, Waitrose) 

You do not often see famous wineries discounting this deeply, so Ridgeview has managed to sneak into contention this year because its price nearly touches the £20 mark. It is not surprising that Bloomsbury makes our Hall of Fame because it is a very impressive wine with more depth and length than the Aldi discovery, and if it were up against the duo of Champagnes in these Awards it would hold its own beautifully, too.

CHAMPAGNE   

NV The Best Brut Premier Cru Champagne France (£21, Morrisons)

NV Taste the Difference Champagne Brut France (£18, Sainsbury’s)

The best champagne, pictured left to right: NV The Best Brut Premier Cru Champagne and NV Taste the Difference Champagne Brut

WINNING WINE: NV The Best Brut Premier Cru Champagne 

France (£21, Morrisons) 

The winning Champagne is this absolutely amazing wine from Morrisons. My notes from the Morrisons tasting earlier in the year read ‘fantastic balance’ and ‘a real find’.

 Our judges were suitably impressed, with Gary and Jodie both championing this wine. Slightly drier and zestier than the Sainsbury’s wine, this beauty has a grand feel, and it is sure to impress even the most fastidious of Champagne fanatics.

NV Taste the Difference Champagne Brut 

France (£18, Sainsbury’s) 

The competition to win the Champagne class is extremely keen, with every supermarket making a range of own-label wines bolstered by other inexpensive brands to pad out their offerings. 

This was the largest class of wines that the judges tackled, and there was huge support for this terrific wine. Smooth, pure, harmonious and impeccably balanced, this is a fabulous wine, and it looks rather smart, too.

AUSTRALIA 

2019 Robert Oatley, Signature Series, Margaret River Chardonnay 

Western Australia (£11.50, Co-op) 

The Robert Oatley wines are made by Larry Cherubino, who knows every inch of the beautiful Margaret River wine region, and that is the reason this is such an amazing wine. It’s the runner-up in the Chardonnay class, one of the most hard-fought of all categories, and when I revealed it was an Aussie wine, there was an audible gasp in the room. 

Effortlessly classy, wonderfully sophisticated and truly bargain-priced, this is a world-class wine. I have tasted it many times, and it always shocks me with its impact.

Food pairing delicious with roast chicken

2019 Yalumba, Galway Barossa Shiraz 

South Australia (£12.99, reduced to £8.99 until 30 November, Waitrose) 

The runner-up in the Shiraz/ Syrah class is this heroic wine from one of Australia’s most revered and respected wineries. This powerful and swaggering red wine is exceptionally impressive, and it is imperative that you grab a few bottles while the price-slash is in place. At just £9, this is one of the deals of the year.

2019 Taste the Difference Château Tanunda Barossa Cabernet/ Merlot 

South Australia (£13, reduced to £11.50 until Tuesday, Sainsbury’s) 

Australia landed another runner-up award, this time in the Cabernet Sauvignon class. With more exuberance and fruitbright wine than one would expect in a Cabernet, the smoothness and velvetiness of this are incredibly compelling. 

Alongside the 69% Cabernet, there is a large, 20% slice of Merlot, as well as Shiraz, Tempranillo, Montepulciano, Malbec and a few others besides! This is why this wine is so layered, complex and alluring.

THE AMERICAS

ARGENTINA & UNITED STATES OF AMERICA   

2018 Ravenswood, Old Vine Zinfandel Lodi, California, USA (£14, Tesco)

2018 Finest The Trilogy Malbec, Catena Mendoza, Argentina (£12, Tesco)

Best Americas, pictured left to right: 2018 Ravenswood, Old Vine Zinfandel and 2018 Finest The Trilogy Malbec, Catena

WINNING WINE: 2018 Ravenswood, Old Vine Zinfandel 

Lodi, California, USA (£14, Tesco) 

Our winner in the Americas class is this utterly mind-blowing Zinfandel from one of the most famous and pioneering wineries in California’s Central Valley. 

Massive, brooding and deeply resonant on the palate, plus loaded with black fruit and cinnamon spice, this is a commanding wine and one which is at the very top of its game. A massive treat that the judges fell for in a moment, this is a wine you should hunt down and dive into because it is a definitive example of its grape variety.

2018 Finest The Trilogy Malbec, Catena 

Mendoza, Argentina (£12,Tesco) 

Argentina’s top red grape was out in force at our Awards, and this wine shone with its plushness and richness of black fruit and spice. Sourced from three exceptional high-altitude vineyards, in the Uco Valley, Lunlunta and Agrelo, it was aged in oak barrels under the guidance of the country’s most renowned winery, Catena. It is an extremely worthy runner-up in our Americas class.

Food pairing great with steak

Class in a glass! From a rich rose to drink all year round to a beautiful budget Bordeaux, these seriously sophisticated wines wowed our judges

NEW ZEALAND

2021 Yealands, Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand (£8, reduced to £7.25 from Wednesday until 14 December, Sainsbury’s; £9.50, Co-op; £7.50, Asda)

2021 Mount Impey, Sauvignon Blanc Marlborough, New Zealand (£12, Tesco)

Best New Zealand, pictured left to right: 2021 Yealands, Sauvignon Blanc and 2021 Mount Impey, Sauvignon Blanc

2021 Yealands, Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand (£8, reduced to £7.25 from Wednesday until 14 December, Sainsbury’s; £9.50, Co-op; £7.50, Asda) 

The runner-up in the Sauvignon Blanc class, this is a highly perfumed and bargain-priced wine. I am sure you will have come across it before because I have featured it in my weekly column many times. 

The judges loved this style but, on the day, preferred the restraint of Mount Impey, so Yealands just slipped out of the winning position. Interestingly, there were no French Sauvignon Blancs in the line-up this year, with the New World grabbing all places.

Food pairing Best with Thai food

WINNING WINE: 2021 Mount Impey, Sauvignon Blanc 

Marlborough, New Zealand (£12, Tesco) 

This brand new wine is utterly sensational, and while it is a good few pounds more expensive than the runner-up Yealands, it was a unanimous decision that this wine won the Sauvignon Blanc crown, and it is the detail, control and elegance of this citrus- themed wine which blew us all away. 

This is not only the finest Sauvignon Blanc on the High Street, I would venture that it would give any SB under £20 a run for its money, so well done Mount Impey! The packaging is tremendous, and there is a lovely story behind the label too, as the company works to preserve the Eastern Falcon depicted on it, so this is a worthy winner and a wine that should be placed on everyone’s shopping list immediately.

SPAIN & PORTUGAL  

2014 Taste the Difference Cune Gran Reserva Rioja, Spain (£13.50, reduced to £12 from Wednesday until 14 December, Sainsbury’s)

2019 Waitrose Loved & Found Castelão Lisboa, Portugal (£6.99, Waitrose)

Best Spain & Portugal, pictured left to right: 2014 Taste the Difference Cune Gran Reserva and 2019 Waitrose Loved & Found Castelão

WINNING WINE: 2014 Taste the Difference Cune Gran Reserva 

Rioja, Spain (£13.50, reduced to £12 from Wednesday until 14 December, Sainsbury’s)

Spain and Portugal always do well in the fortified classes, and so you will find these wines overleaf. Both countries failed to win a spot for white wine, but two reds shone, and this was the winner. 

Consider the facts – seven years old, Gran Reserva calibre, made by a legendary winery Cune and only £12 on the shelf. It is no surprise that the judges went crazy for this epic Rioja.

Food pairing perfect for roast lamb

2019 Waitrose Loved & Found Castelão

Lisboa, Portugal (£6.99, Waitrose) 

The runner-up in this class is around half the winner’s price, and it shows that value is a crucial cornerstone in these Awards. This is another tremendous discovery, and it is the second wine from the Waitrose new Loved & Found range, which is proving a great success. 

Castelão is a native Portuguese grape with a wonderful, juicy, redfruited air. It is bright, engaging and smooth, and could be drunk without food, such is its harmony and charm. There are herbal flourishes among the perfumes, making it a sensational wine for midweek sofa suppers!

FRANCE

WINNING WINE: 2020 Classics No.9 Gewurztraminer

Alsace, France (£10, Marks & Spencer)

The winner in the Aromatic White class just happened to be the most aromatic wine of the day as well as Gary’s favourite white! Made by the brilliant Michel Lihrmann, the trademark rose petal, lychee and fruit salad notes are here and gleaming in the glass, and there are few wines with perfumes as knockout as this one. 

A perfect pairing for creamy curries, fiery laksas and delicious pad thai, as well as more traditional European classics, this is a massively impressive wine.

2020 Taste the Difference, Jurançon Sec

South-West France (£9, reduced to £7.50 from Wednesday until 14 December, Sainsbury’s)

Jurançon is one of the most esoteric and intriguing styles of wine in France, yet I would imagine that this is a new name to most wine lovers. Congratulations to Sainsbury’s for finding a wine of such grace and aromatic appeal. 

The runner-up in the Aromatic White class, this blend of 70% Gros Manseng and 30% Petit Manseng has enticing yellow plum and greengage notes and a crisp finish to offset the midpalate juiciness.

Food pairing lovely with seafood

2020 Taste the Difference, Côtes du Rhône White

France (£8, reduced to £7 from Wednesday until 14 December, Sainsbury’s) 

I love this wine, which was runner-up in the Medium-Weight White class. I am not sure that anyone would pick this up off the shelves because of its bland label, but when tasted ‘blind’ the elegance of its Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Roussanne and Marsanne blend is clear. Smooth, magical and otherworldly, this white neatly fills the gap between light, crisp wines and heavier, main-course models.

2020 Château Barthès, Bandol Rosé Provence, France (£13, reduced to £12 from 1 December until 4 January, Co-op)

2020 The Pale Rosé by Sacha Lichine, Vin de Pays du Var France (£13.99, reduced to £9.99 until 30 November, Waitrose)

Pictured left to right: 2020 Château Barthès, Bandol Rosé and 2020 The Pale Rosé by Sacha Lichine, Vin de Pays du Var

WINNING WINE: 2020 Château Barthès, Bandol Rosé 

Provence, France (£13, reduced to £12 from 1 December until 4 January, Co-op) 

The winner in the Rosé class was this forceful, proud, deeply flavoured wine, and I think the judges acknowledged that the seasons have changed and we now need a richer, foodier style of rosé in our lives. Bandol makes the most masterful of all rosé styles, and Barthès is not only an extremely keenly priced wine from this oft-expensive region but is also drinking beautifully already. This proves that rosé is very much an all-year-round style.

Food pairing incredible with fish

2020 The Pale Rosé by Sacha Lichine, Vin de Pays du Var

France (£13.99, reduced to £9.99 until 30 November, Waitrose)

Sacha Lichine is the palate behind the world’s most famous pink wine, Whispering Angel Rosé. So, when he released a brand new wine, The Pale, which has occasionally dipped below the £10 mark, I was all ears. The judges loved the refinement of this wine, and it duly gained a runner-up spot in the Rosé category. Delicate, floral and dry, this is a ravishing rosé with beautiful packaging to match.

WINNING WINE: 2020 Beaujolais-Villages, Combe aux Jacques, Louis Jadot

France (£10, Tesco, Asda) 

This is the Light Red class winner, and I am sure it is a wine that you will have seen many times on the shelves before. Jadot is a great Burgundian winery, and Combe aux Jacques is already a famous wine, but its 2020 incarnation received the adulation of our judging panel, confirming its place at the top of the Beaujolais pile. Loaded with cherry and strawberry fruit, this also has a gossamer-smooth palate.

Food pairing pair with lamb curry 

2020 Chiroubles, Domaine de la Chapelle Bizot

2020 Viré-Clessé, Vieilles Vignes, Florent Rouve Burgundy, France (£14, Marks & Spencer)

2020 Viré-Clessé, Vieilles Vignes, Florent Rouve Burgundy, France (£14, Marks & Spencer)

Beaujolais, France (£10, Co-op) 

The runner-up in the Light Red class comes from Chiroubles, one of the villages in the Beaujolais region. A shade or two darker in hue than the Louis Jadot winner above, it was a hit with Emma Rice because it retained its silkiness while bringing a little more depth of plummy fruit to the mid-palate. As far as all-rounder reds go, this is a surefire crowd-pleaser that goes with a vast range of foods.

WINNING WINE: 2018 Crozes-Hermitage Les Launes, Delas

Northern Rhône, France (£14, Co-op) 

This is another wine that pipped an Aussie into second place. The Chardonnay, Cabernet and also Syrah/Shiraz classes fell into France’s lap this year, with Australia gaining runner-up positions. This spectacular Rhône triumphed in the Shiraz/Syrah class with its inky black fruit and pepper spice. A mighty, wintry red, it’s perfect with game, mature cheeses, stews and pies.

Food pairing shepherd’s pie partner

WINNING WINE: 2018 Château Dasvin-Bel-Air, Cru Bourgeois, Haut-Médoc

Bordeaux, France (£13.50, Co-op)

While Bordeaux is the most famous wine region globally for the Cabernet Sauvignon grape, it is usually wines that cost five or even ten times the price of this one that garner universal praise. Dasvin is an anomaly because it has all of the complexity and depth of a benchmark claret, but its price is a fraction of its Cru Classé neighbours. Co-op is always a great place to look for the classics, with a Beaujolais, Bordeaux and Rhône in this section.

Food pairing Sunday lunch star

WINNING WINE: 2020 Viré-Clessé, Vieilles Vignes, Florent Rouve 

Burgundy, France (£14, Marks & Spencer) 

The winner in the Chardonnay class, pipping the epic Robert Oatley from Western Australia, was this exquisite wine from the Mâconnais in southern Burgundy. Florent Rouve is a gifted winemaker, and I have written this wine up many times in my columns, but this brand new 2020 vintage is his finest release to date, and the judges jumped on it, confirming Viré-Clessé as a Chardonnay to be reckoned with.

ITALY

WINNING WINE: 2020 Campogrande, Orvieto Classico, Santa

Cristina Umbria, Italy (£9, reduced to £8 from 15 December until 4 January, Co-op) 

The Miscellaneous Light Whites class winner is this thrilling Orvieto from Santa Cristina, owned by the Antinori family. It is so exciting to alert you to this wine’s beauty – the judges loved it, awarding it a rare clean sweep of perfect scores. For £8 you can buy one of the most invigorating and refreshing wines around, so pack your fridge with this stunner and sing Campogrande’s praises from the rooftops.

2020 Specially Selected Lugana, Castellore

Northern Italy (£6.99, Aldi)

Aldi’s second wine in the Awards, this cheeky little Lugana was the runner-up in the Miscellaneous Light Whites class. An important category, its wines take you away from the likes of Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio for a moment or two and broaden your repertoire for entertaining at home. This Italian classic is a crystal clean, cooling white, featuring green apple and pear detail and a crisp, neat finish.

2020 Taste the Difference, Gavi di Gavi

Piemonte, Italy (£9, reduced to £8 from Wednesday until 14 December, Sainsbury’s)

The winner of the Medium-Weight White category was this sensual Gavi made by superstar winemaker Claudio Manera. This was one of the highest-scoring wines on the day from our judges and the sophistication here is unmissable. What is all the more remarkable is the fact that so much grace, elegance and texture is available at only £8 if you time your shopping trip accurately.

2019 Notte Rossa, Primitivo di Manduria Puglia, Italy (£11, Marks & Spencer)

2019 Notte Rossa, Primitivo di Manduria Puglia, Italy (£11, Marks & Spencer)

WINNING WINE: 2018 Taste the Difference Valpolicella Ripasso 

Veneto, Italy (£11, reduced to £10 from Wednesday until 14 December, Sainsbury’s)

This year, the Italian Red class featured Veneto and Puglia wines; strangely, nothing made the grade from Tuscany or Piemonte. While these two regions tend to make more expensive wines, I am over the moon about the quality of our two featured reds, and as luck would have it, the winner is this bombastic Valpolicella, and the runner-up was from Puglia. Packed with black cherry depth and masses of juiciness, this is full of charm and grandeur.

2019 Notte Rossa, Primitivo di Manduria 

Puglia, Italy (£11, Marks & Spencer) 

This is a storming red with almost as much power and richness as the Californian Zinfandel (see page 45). However, Notte Rossa is blacker and more densely packed, with liquorice and espresso notes joining the throng. This makes it a fabulous wine with steaks, venison and meaty pasta. The runner-up in the Italian Red class, it would age well too, so put a few bottles aside for a rainy day.

Food pairing Best with lasagne

Stickies & fortified

AUSTRALIA, FRANCE, SPAIN, ITALY & PORTUGAL 

2018 L’Or du Ciron

Sauternes, France (£12.50, half bottle, Marks & Spencer)

By contrast to the winning Aussie sweetie (right), this runner-up in the Sweet Wine class is a paradigm of elegance and restraint. This is a classic Sauternes, and it is the second most expensive wine in the lineup, given it is a half-bottle format. 

This wine should be deployed with desserts found at the opposite end of the menu card to the full-on, hedonistic dishes more suited to the winning De Bortoli wine. Light, fruity puds and delicate mousses and pastries are precisely what this desires.

WINNING WINE: 2017 The Best Botrytis Semillon

Riverina, New South Wales, Australia (£7.25, half bottle, Morrisons) 

Made by the world-famous De Bortoli winery, this is a fully mature, orange blossom-soaked sweetie with honey and caramel tones, making it one of the most decadent wines on the High Street. Winner of the Sweet Wine class, this bargain is stunning with treacle tart, sponge pudding, chocolate tart and all kinds of old-fashioned English favourites.

NV Campbells, Rutherglen Muscat 

Victoria, Australia (£12.99, half bottle, Waitrose) 

The winner in the Sticky class (a catch-all category for nonsherry, non-port or non-Madeira wines) is this dreamy liqueur Muscat from the stellar Campbells winery in the wilds of Rutherglen in Victoria. Not a heavy wine, but a very sweet one with sensational rose petal and toffee notes that last minutes on the palate. Slightly chilled, this is perfect with chocolate desserts, and you only need a thimbleful to get amazing fireworks of flavour. It also keeps for ages once opened.

2018 Vecchioflorio, Marsala Superiore, Cantine Florio 

Sicily, Italy (£11, Morrisons) 

I was so pleased to see this regal Marsala step up to the plate and impress the judges to become runner-up in the Sticky class. This indulgent wine is bottled in a full 75cl format, and it is of the highest quality, making it a must-buy for fans of this ancient style of Sicilian wine.

While Marsala is usually considered a wine to cook with, this one is statuesque, with deep fig notes, salted caramel tones and masses of sultana-like juiciness.

WINNING WINE: NV Blandy’s, Duke of Clarence Rich Madeira 

Portugal (£12.50, Morrisons)

The winner of the Sherry and Madeira class was this spectacular Madeira. Blandy’s makes some of the most detailed sweet wine, and though this one is raisiny and Christmas cakey on the nose and palate, the finish is dry. Bursting with class and refinement, this holds its flavours even when it has been open for weeks.

Food pairing great with Christmas cake

NV Classics No.40 Rich Cream Sherry 

Jerez, Spain (£8, Marks & Spencer) 

This is the runner-up in the Sherry and Madeira class, and the price buys you a full 75cl bottle of this ridiculously delicious wine, making it one of the loopiest bargains of the year. Serve this juicy, ginger cake-soaked, caramel and candied peel-kissed wine chilled as an accompaniment to afternoon tea, mince pies and Christmas pudding.

2003 Finest Vintage Port Portugal (£20, Tesco)

2015 No.1 Crusted Port Douro, Portugal (£19.99, reduced to £15.99 until 30 November, Waitrose)

Pictured left to right: 2003 Finest Vintage Port and 2015 No.1 Crusted Port

WINNING WINE: 2003 Finest Vintage Port

Portugal (£20, Tesco) 

The winning wine in the Port category is an astounding creation, and it is also staggering value for money too. Crafted by the Symington Family Estates, owners of Port houses Graham’s, Dow’s, Warre’s and Cockburn’s, this 18-year-old Port, from the powerful 2003 vintage, tastes utterly incredible, even though it costs a mere £20. 

It will require decanting before you drink it, but there is not quite as much sediment residing in the bottom of this bottle as there is in the runner-up crusted port. 

A sensational treat, this was the perfect wine with which to finish our blind-tasting marathon, and it was loved by the panel of judges, the Daily Mail team and also the wonderful helpers who poured every single glass so accurately throughout the day!

2015 No.1 Crusted Port

Douro, Portugal (£19.99, reduced to £15.99 until 30 November, Waitrose) 

Crusted Ports are rare, and this is a tremendous example from the Symington family. The term ‘crusted’ means this wine is bottled without any filtration, so there is a lot of sediment, or crust, in the bottle and it must be decanted. The plus point is that this sediment enriches the wine with extraordinary depth and power of fruit and turbocharges the flavour, making No.1 a worthy runner-up in the Port category.

Food pairing Best with cheddar

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk